Note: Reprised from November 28, 2008 with updated material.
An established, powerful group of influencers that are a vital branch of the social media tree are alpha moms. Acting independently, members of this little known, but highly motivated group, are shaping consumer attitudes. Have you been good to your alpha mom lately?
Companies now routinely monitor bloggers who write about products in their industry and send the most influential bloggers products for review. Alpha moms are a highly targeted group of bloggers whom an increasing number of companies turn to for reviews, rather than relying on traditional media, such as newspaper or magazine reporters.
According to Chalene Li and Josh Bernoff, authors of “Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies,” alpha moms are highly active mothers who have at least $55,000 in household income, with some college education and favorable attitudes toward family and technology. They account for about 2.5 percent of all online adults.
Alpha moms most often rate and review products or services on their blogs, comment on someone else's blog, participate in online forums and contribute to or edit articles on wikipedia. Blogging moms have reached critical mass, so there now are blogs that just keep track of mommy blogs, such as Quick Online Tips.
As you would expect, their blogs are about adoption, arts and crafts, breastfeeding, fashion and style, food and cooking, vacations, as well as parenting. Mommy blogs also branch out to other topics such as politics, military life, home-based careers and hobbies.
Engaging bloggers who have written about your company and its products – the online people who are most passionate about your company – is important and becoming commonplace in public relations strategies. It has become so popular that the Federal Trade Commission stepped in. With the new FTC guidelines, bloggers have to - and should - disclose that they received their product for free from X person or company. If a company sends products to a blogger for review, it would be in its best interest to draft a standard disclaimer that communicates that the blogger received the product for free. It’s an easy way for the company to protect itself and also for the blogger to maintain an ethical image.
Jennifer, editor of Search Engine Guide by day and an avid blogger about the qualms of motherhood – specifically breastfeeding – on The Lactivist Breastfeeding Blog, is the perfect example of PR wizardry in motion.
Cayden Creations created the Peek a Boo B nursing cover, designed for lactating moms who want a little privacy while breastfeeding their child. A marketing person from Cayden Creations identified Jennifer as an influential and sent her the nursing cover for review. Jennifer wrote an honest review, outlining the pros and cons of the product, and even created a YouTube video of her trying out the nursing cover, showing the functionality of the product. You can view the video here.
Your product already may be undergoing testing by bloggers, even without your invitation or knowledge. Bloggers recommend products to their fellow bloggers, which can add juice to your product’s search engine optimization.
An example is EnviroMom, a blog that provides helpful tips on how to start living a green lifestyle. Two local, Portland, stay-at-home moms, Heather Hawkins and Renee Limon, started it.
Last year, they were blogging frequently about non-disposable products, and in turn received an e-mail recommendation about some environmentally friendly products from fellow Portlander and green mommy blogger, Lee. She recommended a product that reduces drying time in the dryer, and a green alternative to vinyl shower curtain liners.
gDiapers, a Portland-based maker of earth friendly diapers, has relied on its online presence to build awareness and fuel sales. The company has more than 4,100 members of its Yahoo! user group. One member invites people "to come chat with other gDiaper parents," adding "I am in no way affiliated with gDiapers. I am just a mom of 3 boys who thinks these are neat."
The company, whose founders are from Australia, reportedly has 500 or more of what it calls gMums, who gladly show up at trade shows to talk up gDiapers, its products and its values. You couldn't pay for advertising this good.
If consumers aren’t talking about your product online already, they will be in the future. It is guaranteed. Pay special attention to mommy bloggers who form a significant consumer bloc with common concerns and expanding influence.
It never made more sense to stay in contact with mom.